SOCIAL MEDIA AND MINDFULNESS / by Angela See

me sitting on a chair

me sitting on a chair

      Something I've been contemplating recently is our generation's need for validation through social media outlets. It makes sense to want validation in that way we look, our ideals, relationships with people, goals, etc, and the internet has created a prime place to put on a show and show off all the cool things we do and accomplish. The downside to this, however, is when we start becoming dependent on this type of validation to the point where it feels necessary to constantly be putting out content, to always be doing something productive, to always be looking our best. When we're not doing this, we're looking onto social media, watching everyone else be productive. It's not news that this cycle is mentally draining, and as a result, I've been challenging myself to spend less time on social media and spend more quality time with myself.

The transition from using my phone to pass time to being present has been very difficult, and sometimes I still whip out my phone without purpose to check social media. It's not to say that social media is pure evil—it's useful when it is—but too much of anything has never been my thing, and being the power-house of production I desire to be, I owe it to myself to give my mind a break.

Why are we on it so often anyway? Why does adding the "social" aspect, aka the idea that anyone and everyone in the world is able to produce content, make it any better? I suppose, just like in real life, it matters what content you choose to surround yourself with. But is every single person actually cognizant of the material they expose themselves to? The popular areas of social media consist of similar images of specific body types, fashion trends, habits, and ideas, and the impact as a result of  overstimulation of these images are unavoidable. It almost seems as if everyone has the same #goals and standards and are equally as hard on themselves when they're not the aesthetic they see online, and it doesn't have to be this way. 

It takes up way too much energy to care that much about how one presents themselves, to constantly seek validation so that we are assured that people like us and approve of our choices, to fill in empty space so no one thinks you look awkward as you sit there on the bus, shifting your gaze onto whatever doesn't look back at you, to prove that we are doing more than "nothing".

But what's wrong with nothing every once in a while? When we are able to live in the present without the constant stimulation of media and how other people are living their lives, we physically become less stressed out and can feel much more grounded in the idea that it is okay to do whatever you're doing and to be who you are without feeling bad, even if you're not your #goals that you have retweeted online from that parody twitter bot with millions of followers.

How does social media affect your ability to be present?